To a child, the words “be quiet” are subjective. That is, the interpretation of the words often vary from a parent’s definition. When a parent says, “BE QUIET!” they are really saying, “Please, can you use a soft voice.” However, the interpretation of “be quiet” to a two-year-old boy, for example, is to speak loudly instead of very loudly. The funny thing is, these two words, when spoken by a parent, are usually said like this: “BE QUIET!!!!!” This is opposite to the decible you are asking the child to emulate.
Instead, I like to use the word whisper, and I say it in a small soft voice. I say it like this: “Shhhh, whisper.” Whisper is an active word that leaves little interpretation for a child.
So next time you are about to say, “BE QUIET!” try saying, “Whisper,” instead. It only takes a few reminders for a child to get the whisper concept.
Note: This is another example of being proactive rather than reactive. Read my post here.
Another note: I wish I would known this when first had a child. It’s taken me quiet a few children to get this concept so learn from my mistake.